Mum asked to get crying baby out of cafe

By Abby Gillies, Kiri Gillespie -
Would you be offended by a baby crying in a cafe? Photo / Thinkstock
Would you be offended by a baby crying in a cafe? Photo / Thinkstock

A mum has vowed to boycott a Mt Maunganui cafe after being asked to take her crying baby outside.

Courtney Pope was approached by a co-owner of Providores Urban Food Store as she tried to settle 4-month-old Rex on Sunday.

The cafe made headlines a year ago after a similar incident and the latest case has been criticised by a parent support group and the Restaurant Association.

However, the owners are unrepentant and say they were responding to complaints from other customers.

Ms Pope said Rex rarely cried but was hungry and tried and became spooked as she and her friends ate brunch.

She felt co-owner Andy John drew unnecessary attention to the situation by asking her to go outside.

"I didn't even get the chance to settle him when the lady came over. It was really uncomfortable. I was trying to breastfeed Rex and everyone turned around to watch.''

Ms Pope did not want to go outside, where it was hot and people were smoking.

"If she had just given him a moment, he would have stopped crying.''

Ms John, who has a background in childcare, said she normally offered restless children chocolate fish, but because the baby was so young, she was not sure what to offer and suggested outside as an option.

"I said 'is there anything I can get you' and she looked at me blankly and said 'no'. And then I said `can I make you comfortable outside at all?' - bit of space, fresh air. It was crowded (inside).

"I was as nice as I could be. I'd do anything for them but you do need to look after the others,'' said Ms John who described the cafe as family friendly.

Fellow co-owner Robin Feron said other customers had told staff the baby should be taken outside "and we had to do something''.

"We were full that day. We had vats going out the back and I was out in the kitchen, and above all that noise I could hear it screaming out there.

"I don't know if it was 10 minutes but it kept going. Even if it was five or three minutes, three minutes is a long time of crying.''

Ms Pope and her friends had already eaten, so left together after spending about $90.

The chief executive of family support group Parent to Parent, Anne Wilkinson, said the owners were out of order.

"That isn't the way to deal with it - you try to help. It's sad for the family and I think you'd expect a lot more understanding from the shop owners and others who were complaining.''

Restaurant Association of New Zealand president Mike Egan agreed, saying most mothers felt dreadful if their child was crying in a public place and did their best to settle them.

"I'm pretty sure the mother would have been as stressed about the crying as the cafe owner. I don't really think that asking someone to leave is a good idea.

"What do people do if a child is next to you on an airline? You can't ask the mother to leave - it's just part of life.''

However, Alan Sciascia, Bay of Plenty regional manager for Hospitality New Zealand, said cafe owners were within their rights to admit or turn away who they chose, provided they did not breach human rights.

In January last year, Aucklander Bryan Nicholson and his family were asked to remove their 14-month-old daughter Brylee from Providores because of the noise she was making. The family said she was making "normal'' baby noises, not crying or screaming.

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